How to Spot a Responsible Breeder

Everyone says it: “Buy from a responsible breeder!” But what does that really mean? What exactly is a responsible breeder of purebred dogs?

To start, it’s not something that can be defined in a sentence or two, but rather it’s a combination of factors that sets a good breeder apart from the rest of the pack. And finding a breeder who stands out from that pack is about knowing what makes them good, what makes them bad, and what makes them downright ugly.

So how do you sort the good from the bad? Start with the following list of what defines a responsible breeder, and when it comes time to select a breeder for your puppy, make sure they meet all the marks!

√Good Breeders Know Their Breed

  • They strive to produce dogs that are healthy and sound, that conform to accepted standards for the breed in respect to look, characteristics, temperament, and breed type. They place health and temperament at the top of their list when selecting dogs for breeding.
  • They “breed to the standard”, knowing the choices they make will help preserve and protect the integrity and characteristics of the breed as a whole.

√Good Breeders Know about Genetics and Inheritance

  • They know how certain traits are inherited and understand about dominant and recessive genes and autosomal and multi-factored inheritance.
  • They know their pedigrees and what may lay hidden in the gene pool. They know about calculating coefficiency rates to determine the percentage of common ancestors in a pedigree.
  • They know about, and make use of the genetic tests available for their breed and get health clearances on their dogs. They provide new puppy owners with copies of these clearances.

√ Good Breeders Care About Their Dogs 

  • They breed only those dogs that are physically and mentally mature. Often this means waiting till the dogs are two or three years old. It also means NOT breeding older dogs well past their prime.
  • They belong to and associate themselves with dog clubs that are devoted to promoting, protecting, and improving the breed. Most dog clubs, including the Canadian Kennel Club, have a code of ethics regarding breeding practices and the selling of dogs.
  • They are involved in activities such as conformation dog shows, obedience, hunting, herding, and more. They take their dogs to classes, teach classes, organize dog shows and trials, attend seminars and continuing education events, and are involved in breed rescue. They help educate the public about dogs and their breed. They are advocates for their breed.

√ Good Breeders Breed The Best 

  • They select the best stud dogs for their females, even if that dog is on the other side of the country! If using a local stud dog or one of their own, there’s a reason other than convenience, not just because it lives down the street.
  • They are selective of which females are used with their stud dogs, accepting only those that are genetically sound with good temperaments that are being selectively bred by the owner of the female. They don’t stud their dogs for the local pet market.

√ Good Breeders Care About the Puppies They Raise

  • They raise their puppies in an environment that is conducive to them growing up to be loving family companions, typically in their homes, often in their kitchens.
  • They take the time to get to know their puppies individually before they are sold to new homes. This enables them to match the right puppy to the right family.
  • They have the welfare of the puppies at heart and carefully screen buyers to make sure the puppies are going to the best possible homes.
  • They register their puppies with the Canadian Kennel Club or other recognized registries appropriate to the breed, as well as provide microchip or tattoo identification on each of the puppies they sell. They don’t charge “extra” for papers.
  • They don’t sell or otherwise dispose of dogs or puppies to pet stores, brokers, puppy mills, or other wholesale avenues, or shelters or humane societies.

√ Good Breeders Follow Through

  • They offer written contracts, guarantees and after sales support. They help puppy owners through the transition of becoming responsible owners, answer their questions, help them with training and grooming and anything else they might need.
  • They make sure the puppies are fully evaluated by a veterinarian before they go to their new homes. They make sure puppies are current on vaccinations appropriate to their age and free of parasites or worms. They discuss any potential health issues with prospective buyers.
  • They encourage, some enforce, mandatory spay and neuter contracts to ensure the puppies they have sold are not ever bred indiscriminately, or through accidental breeding or worse, end up in a puppy mill through some twist of fate. They sell their puppies on CKC non-breeding agreements.
  • They offer assistance rehoming the puppy/dog should the need ever arise. Some even take the dog back. They care that the puppies they help bring into the world will not ever end up in rescue or shelters. No good breeder EVER wants to see one of their dogs homeless.

Breeding dogs, and breeding them well, is NOT about breeding them to supply market demand and making money on puppy sales.

A good breeder makes conscientious decisions about which dogs they breed and why. They make sure the dogs they breed are a good representative of the breed, exhibit proper breed temperament, and are free of health and genetic problems. They care about their breed, and just as importantly, they care about the FUTURE of their breed, knowing that the dogs they breed today may have an influence on the look, health, and temperament of generations of dogs to come.

Now, isn’t that the kind of breeder you want to buy your puppy from?